Alumni Impumelelo Edition 2

humanness here in southern Africa. Working with cognitive scientists from Scandinavia, we are delving into the earliest symbolic behaviours, what stone tools can reveal about human cognitive evolution, and the evolution of causal cognition”, said Prof Lombard. In a first study of its kind they used EEG (electroencephalography) scanning that provided the first direct neuro-archaeological evidence for praxis, the human ability, based on ‘ideas’ or ‘imaginings’, to knowingly play out different scenarios in our minds before enacting them. “Such conscious imagination and ideation are quintessential traits

of our humanness – there can be no science, no art, and indeed no Fourth Industrial Revolution without them. This way of thinking has its neurological foundations in the precuneus, an area of the brain in which only Homo sapiens displays a general enlargement.” Prof Lombard stressed activities such as bow hunting was instrumental in shaping the modern human brain. “A brain with which Africans colonised the globe – outwitting and outlasting all other human groups, becoming ancestral to us all. It also alludes to our abilities to gain causal knowledge, and to reason about outcomes based on it, which is key to the human way of thinking.” Prof Lombard concluded that a few decades ago, lines of research

such as neuro-archaeology, and reconstructing the full genomes of people who lived millennia before us were inconceivable. “The future of human origins research now lies in inter-disciplinary research programmes, aimed at understanding gene-culture, brain-culture and gene-brain co-evolution. As human origins researchers, our task will be to integrate fully our fossil, archaeological and genetic records with state-of-the-art methods, and global trends and debates; whilst dedicating the knowledge thus gained to the youth and to their futures in a region that gave birth to our humanness.”

UJ researchers discover family of silver-based anti-cancer drugs

Fewer side effects Apart from needing a much lower dose than an industry standard, UJ3 is also much less toxic. “In rat studies, we see that up to 3 grams of UJ3 can be tolerated per 1 kilogram of bodyweight.

A new family of potential silver- based anti-cancer drugs has been discovered by researchers at the University of Johannesburg (UJ). The most promising complex in the UJ3 has been successfully tested in rats and in several human cancer cell lines in laboratory studies. The complex is as effective against human esophageal cancer cells, as a widely-used chemotherapy drug, but at a ten times lower dose, and much lower toxicity against non- malignant cells. In research published in BioMetals, UJ3 is shown to be as effective against human esophageal cancer cells, as a widely-used chemotherapy drug in use today.

Esophageal cancer cells are known to become resistant to current forms of chemotherapy. “The UJ3 complex is as effective as the industry-standard drug Cisplatin in killing cancer cells in laboratory tests done on human breast cancer and melanoma, a very dangerous form of skin cancer, as well”, says Professor Marianne Cronjé, Head of the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Johannesburg. “However, UJ3 requires a 10 times lower dose to kill cancer cells. It also focuses more narrowly on cancer cells, so that far fewer healthy cells are killed”, she says.

This makes UJ3 and other silver phosphine complexes

we have tested about as toxic as Vitamin C”, says Professor Reinout Meijboom, Head of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Johannesburg. If UJ3 becomes a chemotherapy drug in future, the lower dose required, lower toxicity and greater



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